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Mark Knopfler Goes Privateering

Album Cover for Mark Knopfler's 2012 album Privateering

I have a confession to make. I was drunk under a barrel when Ye Olde Mark Knopfler released his album Privateering in 2012. In my defense it was a rather large barrel and I was a fair bit turned around. Still, I think it’s worth backtracking to share at least one song from this album for those of you who collect seafaring music, or like to get your chicks for free.

The title track, Privateering, is strictly Knopfler, but it’s something that I can see being sung by pirates around campfires on the beach or even renfaire pirates sitting in mud. Give it a listen!

And just in case there’s any doubt as to his intentions, Knopfler’s press kit quotes him as saying:

“I remember in the early days, if you had a van you could get into a group, so band wagons have always had a special place in my heart. It was important to use something like that, to take it away from the nautical swashbuckler. To me a man in a van has got as much to do with privateering as a frigate or a gunboat or anything like that. He’s on the road, he’s making his own way, he’s doing his thing, the best way he knows how. That’s what I’m talking about. That’s what we’re all trying to do.”

 

One of the most interesting things about this album was that press kit, which is sadly no longer to be found on the minstrel’s own website. However, thanks to the time travel app on my rPlank I am able to share that information with you at the end of this post.

 

Performance at Royal Albert Hall

In May of 2015 Knopfler performed the song at the Royal Albert Hall and at the time of this posting there is a multi-camera video of the performance on YouTube. The audio isn’t fantastic, but do you be paying me for this post??

 

Deluxe Edition

Like most albums, Privateering has been released in all sorts of shapes and formats. If you’re one of those pirates who are unwilling to trust in the cloud you might wish to purchase the Deluxe Edition of this album, which features a third disc containing live concert tracks and a special booklet. You can purchase the Deluxe Edition of Privateering from Amazon.

Privateering Deluxe 3 CD collection

 


Privateering press kit

Mercury Records, 2012

“A privateer is what I am, really,” says Mark Knopfler.

The title track of the legendary singer-songwriter and guitarist’s eight solo album evokes a swashbuckling era of seafaring plunder, merchant raiders and licensed pirates. But Mark finds an analogy with the modern rock and roll life. “I really get a buzz out of having this little group of people that sallies forth across the world. I enjoy being in command of it, the band, the crew, travelling through this ever changing landscape and playing in all these different places. You get where you get without any kind of assistance, really, making your own way in the world. There are no government grants to play this music. You’re a privateer. And that’s the way I like it.”

Privateering is Mark Knopfler’s first double album in a 35-year recording career. “The older I get, the more I want to write,” he says. “Whether that is just panic at time running out, I’m not sure. I’m enjoying the process more than ever, writing, recording and playing live, I enjoy all of it. I’m almost tripping over songs.”

These 20 tracks of consummately crafted folk, blues, country and rock originals reflect the creative exuberance of an artist whose exceptional abilities were recognised with a Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s Ivor Novellos. He has performed live in front of countless millions. He has collaborated with artists of the stature of Bob Dylan, Randy Newman, Emmylou Harris and Van Morrison. He has composed distinctive soundtracks for such classic films as Local Hero, The Princess Bride, Last Exit To Brooklyn and Wag The Dog. He has been regularly acclaimed as one of the greatest guitarists in the world. But what he sees himself as, first and foremost, is a songwriter. And this may be his finest-ever collection.

“I have always thought in terms of the transatlantic nature of music. My idea of heaven is somewhere where the Mississippi Delta meets the Tyne. What I wanted from the very first album with Dire Straits and songs like ‘Sultans of Swing’ was to write my own geography into the American music that shaped me, to identify the English, Irish and Scottish landmarks on Chuck Berry’s road. I think what I’m doing now is both synthesising those influences and separating them. The band I have is so talented, and so flexible, they give me the kind of palette to go anywhere I want, so I can jump from a hill farm in the north of England and go straight to the streets of New York City or go down into the delta for a straight-ahead blues.”

Privateering travels from the dreamy Americana of ‘Redbud Tree’, filled with trademark silvery Stratocaster licks, to the sea shanty pipes of ‘Haul Away’, the swaggering slide electric blues of -‘Gator Blood’ and the Celtic folk yearning of ‘Kingdom Of Gold’. It is full of drawn characters like the tough northern sheep farmer of ‘Yon Two Crows’ and the boastful gambler of ‘Hot Or What’, and evocative situations like the embattled lovers in the rain swept ‘Seattle’ and the mysterious contemplations of mortality of ‘Dream Of The Drowned Submariner’. The lyrical and musical detail in these songs is of the very first order, with Mark Knopfler’s singing and playing always bringing the story home on the back of one of the finest bands in the world. Privateering is not a concept album. It is not a song cycle. It is simply one of our finest and most distinctive musical talents doing what he does best.

“I chose to make a double album this time just because of the sheer volume of material. I didn’t want to separate songs into blues and folk and country and I didn’t want to leave songs on the shelf. I just wanted it to be a reflection of the fantastic sessions we had. With a great bunch of players, it’s the same as a great group of actors reading a script from the page, the thing can come alive in ways it just never has before. This is the band I have been working towards my whole life.”

The line-up of musicians Mark has been gathering around him since the mid-90s includes Guy Fletcher (keyboards), Richard Bennett (guitar), Jim Cox (piano), Glenn Worf (bass), Mike McGoldrick (whistle and flute) and John McCusker (fiddle) with the recent addition of the fantastic Ian Thomas (drums). Special guests included Paul Franklin (pedal steel), Phil Cunningham (accordion) and Tim O’Brien (mandolin). Ruth Moody of rising roots band The Wailin’ Jennys contributed her distinctive vocals. “To have Ruth singing on the record was very special for me,” says Mark. “She is on the very top level of singers and songwriters out there and I can’t take her off my jukebox.” The blues material was infused with the harmonica playing of Kim Wilson of legendary blues rockers The Fabulous Thunderbirds. “One of the most important things about the blues to me has always been the harp. Seeing Muddy Waters as a kid made a big impression on me, the harp was burbling away all the time, the band was swinging. And to me the greatest modern exponent is Kim Wilson, he’s been my top man for many years, so it was really great to have him on board. We hit it off straight away and got a great session going.”

Recorded in Mark’s own studio, British Grove, Privateering is a smart, subtle, soulful and utterly superb collection of songs from a class act with an unbeatable band. These are tough tales of real people, living hard lives in difficult times. And it is all carried off with the self-confident bravado of a latter-day privateer. The cover, featuring a battered van and a shaggy dog, says it all. “I remember in the early days, if you had a van you could get into a group, so band wagons have always had a special place in my heart. It was important to use something like that, to take it away from the nautical swashbuckler. To me a man in a van has got as much to do with privateering as a frigate or a gunboat or anything like that. He’s on the road, he’s making his own way, he’s doing his thing, the best way he knows how. That’s what I’m talking about. That’s what we’re all trying to do.”

 

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Final Stop of the Pubcrawl: Notes About Communion

PiratePalooza #13 begins tomorrow and there’s just a bit more you need to know about our final secret final stop, where the world famous PiratePalooza Pubsing begins (immediately on the heels of the world famous PiratePalooza Pubcrawl) – please be sure to share this information with your mates. The location is called “Communion” and you’ll find it on Church Street, in the backyard of REVIVAL, a restaurant operated by celebrity Atlanta television chef Kevin Gillespie. To get to Communion you’ll need to Continue Reading

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Maui Shocks Festival Crowd

There’s an unofficial tradition among the cast at the Georgia Renaissance Festival that Memorial Day is observed as a “prank day” for tweaking costumes, characters, storylines, and songs ever so slightly as to entertain each other in order to survive the final leg of a brutal 3-day run. These minor alterations usually go unnoticed by patrons of the festival, but they provide the cast with tremendous entertainment, a welcome distraction from the scorching heat, dusty streets, and occasional deluge and lightning storm.  In my opinion the undisputed “winner” of GARF’s 2017 Prank Day was Estaban Diego de Castille who showed up as Continue Reading

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The Compleat Barley Mow

As I was recently polishing off a pint of ale I was reminded of a time many years ago when the minstrel group Wine Woman & Song would regale us with an old favorite, The Barley Mow, during pub sing at the Brewer’s Pub at the Georgia Renaissance Festival. With a bit of time on my hands I decided to find out more about this old tune. For instance: what’s a “barley mow”? What’s a nipperkin? What’s a drayer? What’s a Continue Reading

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Landloch’d Releases The Devil’s Own Invention

Yours truly, Captain Drew, was lucky enough to secure an invitation to an exclusive industry launch party for the fifth album by Landloch’d, a duo with a penchant for whiskey and sheep. This latest album is clearly their classiest one yet because it features the band’s mascot Delilah wielding a trident with a heart impaled on its Continue Reading

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Levin Delivers Exquisite New Album La Luminosa

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Last weekend I wandered through the royal court at the Georgia Renaissance Festival and happened upon Rivka Levin of Three Quarter Ale fame playing her harp and singing music from her latest album (a copy of which I purchased after the performance). Rivka’s skill at the harp is well known to regulars of the festival as is her beautiful voice and I’m happy to Continue Reading

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All’s Faire is Splendid Listening

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This summer Lady Prudence announced her intention to launch a new album and it came as no surprise that her Kickstarter goal was essentially doubled.  I found a few spare groats under the cage of Sir Rocko, my ground parrot, and promptly dropped them in the post to the Lady’s attention, care of somewhere on dry land. Several months later I received a package containing a signed copy of her new album All’s Faire, a very pleasant handwritten note, and a rather torrid love letter Continue Reading

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Pogue Mahone at PiratePalooza!

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This year marks the 10th anniversary of Tommy and Foe’s friendship, but people who know them would swear the two have been friends for several lifetimes. They met briefly at DragonCon through their mutual friend, Wade Finch, but got to know each other much better by spending a few hours discussing costumes at Foe’s first PiratePalooza (Year 2, in 2006). Though they wouldn’t start singing together for another year or so, their friendship really began that night outside Continue Reading

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Curvy, Scurvy, and Purvy at PiratePalooza!

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The first two attempts to interview this singing group did not go as planned, and the third interview was an absolute disaster. The fourth interview was cancelled due to a lack of rum, and the fifth interview resulted in a fire that threatened to engulf half of Brest. The sixth interview attempt should never be mentioned in polite company. Finally, we decided to simply steal an interview with the group that was published by Rolling Schooner magazine in 1733.

When did you get together as a group? How did it happen?

Captain Scurvy Pete misplaced his old crew and was looking for a new crew. He met Curvy and agreed to hire him as his new cabin boy. (He still doesn’t understand his strange attraction to his Continue Reading

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Toucan Dubh at PiratePalooza!

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In 2004 Julia McPeek Campbell & Ian O’Donnell met at the North Georgia Celtic Festival where Ian had been performing solo for a couple of years. Julia was with the Border Collies at the time and the two musicians hit it off immediately and began playing together soon thereafter. Julia’s driving fiddle paired well with Ian’s musicianship & repertoire, and with their voices rounding Continue Reading

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